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Soup of the Day | Kate McMillan


“Soup is the song of the hearth…  and the home.” – Chef Louis P. De Gouy

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

TITLE: Soup of the Day
AUTHOR: Kate McMillan
PUBLISHER: Weldon Owen

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Featured Ingredient: Stock or Broth?
The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminologytomatillo soup by little blue hen but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavored liquid. This gives classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetable stock. Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavoring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses. Traditionally, broth contains some form of meat or fish: nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
I’m a soup fanatic. So, you almost have to stop me from shaking as I turn the pages. 365 soup recipes! Really? Yes, really. It’s printed on a nice premium white gloss stock. It has great page feel. Vibrant color images by Erin Kunkel add to the allure of the recipes. It’s all soup, so you need to keep it entertaining. The way in which the cookbook is divided into days and months does that. They have found a perfect way to keep a single subject cookbook interesting from start to finish.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)

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Duck, duck, soup…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cioppino Stone Soup
Celery, Leek & Oyster Bisque Three-Bean Soup with Linguica
Artichoke Soup with Morel Butter Creamy Spinach-Leek Soup
Red Bean & Andouille Soup Cool Honeydew-Mint Soup
Brazilian Fish Stew Tom Yum with Shrimp
Pork Pho Garlicky Pork & Chili Soup
Minestrone with Pesto Soup Cream of Parsnip Soup
Wedding Soup Weeknight Hungarian Beef Stew


Paring this list down was unbelievably hard for me. There was a new favorite with the turn of every page. But, were there some soups that rose to the top? Of course,

I make a Tortellini and Spinach soup in the winter that both my wife and I both love. The Tortellini & Escarole (p.27), is a nice variation on that theme. The Crab & Avocado Soup (p.173) is a great warm weather soup. Light, fresh and delicious. I was never a huge fan of chilled soups. But, over the years I’ve “warmed” up to them. I love pumpkin soup. So, the Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (p.267), makes my mouth water. I especially loved the pumpkin roasting technique. For me, fall would not be the same without it. And finally, Ribollita (p.207), need I say more? I think not.

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Special Features
Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the YearThere aren’t any special features to speak of. At least in the traditional cookbook sense. The special features of this book come down to its formatting. I love the fact that each month starts with a calendar. Inside each of the days of the month is the soup title and the page number. It is almost like twelve separate tables of contents. That format makes it very easy to browse the recipes. There are 365 soups in this book. That’s a lot. The user friendly formatting aids navigation. The fact that each month contains soups that are appropriate for the weather and the ingredients available was thoughtful way to arrange the content. No matter what time of year it is, you can find a soup to fit the season.

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Again, I cannot overstate this, I LOVE SOUP. So, this book is a serious home run for me. Now, maybe you’re not as possessed by soup as I am. You will still love the variety and diversity of the recipes. All different styles and types are covered. For fun, you could just randomly open to a page and let the soup making begin. Oh, in case you were wondering, today’s special is, Minestrone with Pesto (p.214), yummm!

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

Resources, Links and Press
Kate McMillan’s Website
Kate Talks About Soup – Interview
Kate McMillan – TV Interview
Recipe – Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Gumbo Fit For A Mardi Gras King


“People who come back from heaven all say the same thing… Try the gumbo”.


Gumbo. Just say the word and watch me start to drool. Everybody has his or her favorite. And, I’m sure there are as many variations as you would care to count. But, there’s only one that could get me to make a forty minute car ride into the city for absolutely no other reason.

In the Chicago loop, next to the “el” tracks on Wabash, tucked away on the seventh floor of an otherwise ordinary looking downtown professional building, is my personal gumbo mecca. The place is appropriately named, Heaven on Seven.

It’s housed in an old school Chicago building. A small convenience counter selling newspapers, gum and assorted sundries greets you when you make your way through the revolving doors. An attendant still directs you to the correct elevator. Even though the only place to go is up.

When the elevator doors push back you can only hope that the line of other salivating diners doesn’t stretch the full length of the hall. Usually it does. It’s a small space, compared to the mega eateries opening today. The line does move.

There’s usually a way to avoid the wait. It’s not a big insider secret. The counter. Yes, a full on coffee shop counter. And, most times there’s one vacant seat. You can settle in to a cramped stool, order a cup of gumbo and a jalapeño corn bread muffin and watch the frenetic pace of a Chicago dining landmark.

Since moving, I sometimes get an uncontrollable urge for their thick, super rich, Andouille laden stew. Especially around this time of year. But, at Heaven on Seven “It’s Mardi Gras All the Time”.

Mardi Gras Beads

I have been mostly disappointed with all other surrogate gumbos I currently have access to (although some have come close). I figured this year I should try my hand at creating the real thing.

Back in 2000, chef/owner Jimmy Bannos put out a cookbook containing some of the restaurants signature dishes. During the planning and editing process, someone made the very unselfish decision to include the world’s best gumbo. Thank you.

The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!

Lucky for me I had a signed copy my wife gave me years ago sitting on a shelf in the kitchen for just this very occasion.

As I read through the recipe it became immediately clear that making great gumbo doesn’t happen by accident. This isn’t for beginners. The recipe itself includes no less than four ingredients that have their own individual recipes (something like, see page 134). No one said this would be a stroll through Jackson Square.

I’ve got a great cast iron Dutch oven that was meant for this. I figured it would be best to approach the process in two parts. I made all of the side recipes and prepped on the first day. On day two, I put it all together.


Usually I would post the recipe here, but, it’s pretty widely available in print and on the web. You can find it without too much trouble. So instead, here’s the recipe for the Roasted-Garlic Puree that you’ll need for the finished product.

Roasted-Garlic Puree

1 cup, garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 300. Place all of the garlic in a small ovenproof dish. Cover completely with the olive oil. Cover dish with foil and place in oven. Roast 1 hour or until garlic is soft and golden brown.

When finished strain the garlic from the oil. Place the garlic in a blender or small food processor. Puree until smooth. Add a small amount of the infused oil to get a nice pasty consistency. Store the finished puree in a small container and top with a thin layer of the oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for a few days. You can store the infused oil separately. The oil would be an amazing base for a great Caesar salad dressing.

There a lot of ingredients in the gumbo recipe. So, be careful to follow the directions carefully. Double check.

My gumbo in all of it’s deliciousness.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I have to say it was right on! It turned out great. I was shocked at how close it was to the restaurant version. Amazing!

Oh, you can’t have Jimmy’s gumbo without a corn bread muffin or two.

Corn Bread Muffins

The Bottom Line: I’m not sure I’m going to make this on a weekly or even monthly basis. But, now that I’ve got this in my back pocket, I have a cure for the gumbo shakes should they arise. It would be WAY easier if Jimmy would just ship down a quart or two every year. Order up!

Buy IT! - The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!Author: Jimmy Bannos & John Demers
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
ISBN-10: 1580081681

Buy IT! - The Heaven on Seven Cookbook: Where It's Mardi Gras All the Time!

Recipe adapted from: Roasted-Garlic Puree, The Heaven on Seven Cookbook, Jimmy Bannos and John DeMers ©2000, Ten Speed Press


Boiled Water: There’s An App For That


I’m not sure which is the most basic of recipes, boiled water or making ice cubes. It might very well be a tie.


There used to be a time in the not so distant past when the mechanics of making a meal was VERY different.  You either opened up an oil stained cookbook or just cooked from memory and taste. All of that is changing at a pretty rapid pace.

This past weekend I not only cooked with my Mac laptop sitting on the counter, BUT, I cooked using my iPhone! AND, I enjoyed it!

New York Times columnist, author and food journalist, Mark Bittman is at the forefront of making that change happen. His How To Cook Everything app for the iPhone is just another example of how our everyday kitchen “tools” are evolving.

I decided to check out how cooking off your phone would be. I know it’s really a miniature computer, but, it’s still a phone. But, what to try first? The Bittman app is loaded with thousands of recipes, tips and helpful kitchen hints. I figured I would let the wisdom of the crowds guide my decision. It turned out to be a good choice.

One of the features of the application lets users give a “thumbs up” to recipes they have tried and liked. I start my journey with the most popular one. Boiled Water.

How could a recipe for boiled water be the favorite of so many people (1928 votes as of this writing)? I think I should get to the bottom of this.

The recipe is described as “a Mediterranean classic” that is almost as simple as boiling water. As it turns out that isn’t too far from the truth. Here’s what you’ll need to make this quick and easy recipe.

6-10 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 Bay Leaf
4 cups water
1/4 cup, Olive Oil
4 Slices French Bread
1/2 cup, freshly grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Romano cheese
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a large saucepan or small stockpot add water, bay leaf, garlic and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover partially and reduce heat to very low. Low enough for the cooking liquid to boil gently. Boil for 15 minutes.


In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. When heated add the bread slices. Brown on both sides, turning once for a total of about 5 minutes.


When bread has browned, place in bowls and top with grated cheese. Strain solids from the soup and pour into the bowls. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serve.

Serves 4


This really could not have been much easier to make. I poured my broth over the cheese topped bread. I figured this would melt the cheese a little.

There were a couple of issues that came up. First when you add the bread to the skillet, side one soaks up 90 percent of the oil in the pan. This leaves no oil for toasting the second side. The recipe suggests using slightly stale bread. That may help a little with that problem.

The second is more of an observation than a problem with the recipe. When you add the broth to the bowl, the bread turns soft and broth soaked rather quickly. I liked the texture of the mushy bread. It gave the soup a little more body. If you don’t expect a crunchy crouton kind of experience, then you won’t be disappointed.

I was surprised at how much flavor this recipe actually had given the few ingredients that it contains. It really has a lot of depth to it. A pleasant surprise.

When we finished slurping, all of my tasters agreed that this would make an excellent first course for a roast chicken dinner. Nice and light, but, more than enough taste to carry the dish.

We know that the recipe turns out fine. Now, what about the app itself. Here’s how it all breaks down.

groceryscreenJPGThe app runs great. The search feature usually turns up a good amount of recipe options. Each of the recipes is broken down nicely into sections. An overview, ingredients list and the steps themselves. If there is a timing element (which of course there is in most recipes), then a handy link lets you use the timer in the app without setting another external one. That’s nice.

You can save your favorite recipes. I love the grocery list function. You can add in all of the ingredients for your recipe with the touch of a button. You can then sort that list by store aisle or alphabetically. I have to say that it’s surprisingly useful. I’m pretty much of a pencil and paper guy when it comes to my shopping list, but, who knows, this might change me.

The Bottom Line

How To Cook Everything, the iPhone/iPad version isn’t a substitute for Mark’s fantastic in print book. But, if you just want to whip out your phone, do a quick search and make a great meal, then this app will do that and even a little more. The app runs $4.99 which is on the high side for iPhone apps. Now, I’m not saying it’s not worth five bucks, but, a lot of folks are used to 99 cents or free. My advice to you, pony up the fin and get cooking.